I believe that a high level of written and spoken English is something to strive for and be proud of, whatever age you are and whatever job you do. However, apparently my passion for grammatical correctness is not one that is necessarily shared and whilst I do not claim to be perfect, especially when writing in a rush or using auto-correct, I do think that my writing is of a pretty good grammatical standard. To be completely honest I will stop reading a blog if the spelling and grammar is poor. I’ll forgive the odd mistake because we all make them, but here are my top 10 bugbears which will almost certainly stop me from heading back to a website for future reading. I’m explaining each rule as I go along, so hopefully this post will prove useful.
- ‘There’, ‘They’re’ and ‘Their’ – This trips so many people up I cannot begin to keep track of the incorrect uses I’ve seen. “There is their house, the one they’re living in” makes it simple; ‘there’ is a place or directional, ‘their’ is possessive and ‘they’re is the contracted version of ‘they are’
- Using ‘Learn’ instead of ‘Teach’ – “I’m going to learn him a lesson” Wrong! You may well be preparing to teach him a lesson from which he will learn something, though
- Apostrophes – These little marks on the page are probably the biggest cause of anger to me as a reader. If something is a possession, use an apostrophe; “Hannah’s blog is great”, for example!. If you are contracting two words, use an apostrophe; “Hannah is a pedantic pain in the…” can also be “Hannah’s a pedantic pain in the…”. If there is more than one of something DO NOT USE AN APOSTROPHE! We are not mummy’s, we are mummies. You do not have two cat’s, you have two cats. There are more apostrophe rules but I could write an entire essay so I’ll leave it with these three for now.
- ‘Whose’ and ‘Who’s’ – Simply, ‘whose’ is possessive and ‘who’s’ is a contraction of ‘who is’; “Whose house is that?” “The one who’s just moved from Australia” (Random, I know!)
- ‘Too’ and ‘To’ – If you want to express something as being excessive, additional, extra, also then use ‘too’, whereas ‘to’ expresses direction, place or position. “I’m too tired to go to the gym.”
- If you saw something, you have seen it, but you didn’t seen it so please don’t say or write that the other day you seen an advert for something.
- Borrowing is something that we all do, which requires the act of lending by another person. Someone does not borrow you an item, they lend it to you and you borrow it from them.
- To accept something is to agree to it or to take it whereas except is an exception or a non-inclusion, so “I’ve accepted that I can’t go to the party but everyone is going except me.”
- If you purchase something then you have bought it, if you bring something with you then you have brought it. You may, of course, have bought something which you then brought round, that’s fine but you haven’t brought something from a shop, that’s probably shoplifting.
- Not using capital letters for proper nouns, or using them for common nouns – Your job title does not require a capital letter however names and places, for example, do. I am a mummy and a wife and a blogger and I live in England. Also, ‘I’ is always a capital. I don’t know why when other personal pronouns are not, it’s one of those weird English language things.
It’s March 31st 2018 today, and I’ve decided that I want to add another 10, after a discussion on my Facebook page yesterday. So without further ado:
- Using ‘of’ instead of ‘have’. You could HAVE, should HAVE, would HAVE.
- The letter ‘H’ does still exist. Have, had, has, not ave, ad, as.
- The ellipsis (…) shouldn’t be used in place of a comma or full stop.
- It’s and Its. “It’s good to know the company has its finances in order”
- ‘Breath’ and ‘Breathe’. When you breathe, you take a breath.
- Me or I. “The letter was addressed to Phil and I”. Nope! If the letter was addressed to me, I’d say “The letter was addressed to me”, not ‘I’, so if you took the other person out of the equation, you need to decide whether you would use ‘me’ or ‘I’, and that’s what you use when referring to yourself and someone else.
- A lot, not alot. Ever. ‘Allot’ is to allocate to something “I’ve allotted £20 to spend on my meal.”
- Lose vs Loose. You lose something or someone, your clothes can be loose – although mine rarely are.
- Every/anythink. *Shudder* ‘Anything’ and ‘Everything’ please people.
- Less vs Fewer. You can have less money than someone, which means you have fewer coins in your purse. “I’ve got less knowledge than she has because I attended fewer classes”
The English language is incredibly complex and there are more exceptions to rules than rules themselves, but I genuinely believe that the above points are ones that everybody can learn and that they are absolutely essential if you want a career in writing. I do see people with very successful blogs who make these any many other mistakes, but I truly believe that if blogging is to be considered as highly as we all wish it to be, then we need to prove that the quality of writing is high. Now before anyone mentions dyslexia, learning disabilities or anything else associated with language difficulties, I am not saying that every person in the country has the ability to understand every grammatical rule, however if you do have any form of learning disability or other issues with reading and writing but want to be a blogger, then ask someone to proof read your work and always have a dictionary or spell checker to hand.